Nottingham Trent named UK's greenest uni

8th June 2011


08 06 2011

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Nottingham Trent University has topped UK rankings of the most environmentally friendly colleges but, like the rest of the sector, its carbon dioxide emissions are still rising.

Of the 142 universities ranked in People and Planet’s latest “Green League”, 63% report that their emissions had gone up by an average of 7.4% since 2005. The figures are in stark contrast to the sector-wide target of a 43% reduction in CO2 on 2005 figures by 2020.

“It's incredibly worrying," said People and Planet's climate campaigns and communications manager, Louise Hazan. "The planning is there, the policy is there, to a certain extent the resourcing is there, but the performance is just lagging behind.”

People and Planet, a student network campaigning to protect the environment, ranks universities against 13 measures of policy commitment and environmental performance, including employing dedicated environmental management staff and having procedures in place to measure and manage environmental impacts.

It also examines the amount of waste the university produces, the ethics of its procurement processes and any reductions to it greenhouse gas emissions and water use.

Analysis of this year’s results reveal that 22% of universities that took part do not publically set out targets for reducing emissions and 71% purchase their electricity generated wholly from fossil fuels.

However, there are also some positive results with 45% of waste produced by the sector being recycled, compared to just 37% last year, and 68% of universities accredited with Fairtrade status.

Innovations at Nottingham Trent University that helped it to secure the top spot in the rankings for the second time in three years, include a sedum roof, that provides insulation and an environment for wildlife, smart lifts that minimise energy wasted on unnecessary journeys and a scheme that allows staff to hire a bicycle for £35 a year.

The university’s vice-chancellor, professor Neil Gorman, says the key is ensuring environmental issues are seen as equally important as deciding which courses to offer and working with business.

"It's not a 'nice to do', it's an equal partner," he told the Guardian in their article publishing the tables yesterday (7 June 2011).

Several universities in the Russell Group of leading institutions are performing poorly. Cardiff University, for example, is ranked as a “fail” scoring only 16.5 points out a possible 70.

A spokesman for the university criticised People and Planet’s methodology.

“People and Planet continually fail to credit Cardiff University for the number of core staff we have with designated environmental responsibilities. They seem to attract few marks in the survey, seemingly as they are not purely dedicated to environmental issues,” the spokesman said.

“The league table does not reflect the tremendous practical efforts made by staff and students throughout the university to reduce carbon emissions, promote sustainable development, and embed sustainable development in our operations.”

The full league table and details on the methodology used to create it are available from People and Planet’s website.

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